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I am reading the appendices of The Lord of the Rings and in particular Appendix F, part II "On translation".

Tolkien writes:

To their man-children they usually gave names that had no meaning at all in their daily language; and some of their women's names were similar. Of this kind are Bilbo, Bungo, Polo, Lotho, Tanta, Nina, and so on. There are many inevitable but accidental resemblances to names we now have or know: for instance Otho, Odo, Drogo, Dora, Cora, and the like. These names I have retained, though I have usually anglicized them by altering their endings, since in Hobbit-names a was a masculine ending, and o and e were feminine.

The questions are:

  • which names are referred to by "these names I retained": the accidental resemblances to english or all the names? It seems that only the accidental resemblances were anglicized.
  • But then, in Hobbit-names o was a feminine ending. So the first translations would be "Bilb-a", "Frod-a", and then there is an anglicization passage?

I am aware that translation can change a lot the names, since the case of Meriadoc is explained in the same appendix to have been chosen so to obtain a fitting shortened name like the original Kali shortened from Kalimac.

  • 2
    +1, I honestly didn't know that, nor what I found when I looked it up in HoME. – dlanod Jul 20 '12 at 9:50
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You got Bilba right, but Frodo in the original Westron was actually Maura (from On Translation in Peoples of Middle-Earth, parts of which became Appendix F):

Bilbo. The actual H. name was Bilba, as explained above.

Frodo. On the other hand the H. name was Maura. This was not a common name in the Shire, but I think it probably once had a meaning, even if that had long been forgotten. No word maur- can be found in the contemporary C.S., but again recourse to comparison with the language of Rohan is enlightening. In that language there was an adjective maur-, no longer current at this time, but familiar in verse or higher styles of speech; it meant 'wise, experienced'. I have, there- fore, rendered Maura by Frodo, an old Germanic name, that appears to contain the word frod which in ancient English corresponded closely in meaning to Rohan maur.

And just for completeness, Baggins was actually a translation for Labingi:

Baggins. H. Labingi. It is by no means certain that this name is really connected with C.S. labin 'a bag'; but it was believed to be so, and one may compare Labin-nec 'Bag End' as the name of the residence of Bungo Baggins (Bunga Labingi). I have accordingly rendered the name Labingi by Baggins, which gives, I think, a very close equivalent in readily appreciable modern terms.

(C.S. being short for Common Speech, and H. for Hobbit.)

  • Thanks, I didn't know that book. If the Maura -> Frodo passage is described in the appendix, I missed it. Will have to re-read it :-) – Francesco Jul 20 '12 at 13:27
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    +1 - you never fail to astonish with the depth of LOTR knowledge. – DVK-on-Ahch-To Jul 20 '12 at 14:14
  • @Francesco I don't think it is. I think it's just in PoME. – dlanod Jul 20 '12 at 21:43
  • Thanks @dlanod. Will add to my list of books to read :-) – Francesco Jul 21 '12 at 7:48

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